Google Assistant Will Limit Calls to Contact List Numbers
Google Home is placing surprising new restrictions on the calls users can make by asking Google Assistant. Only numbers saved in Google Contacts will be reachable by asking the voice assistant starting in December.
Google Home Phone
The Google Home feed tab recently began pushing out what it called an “Important change to calling,” explaining the shift. Whereas Nest Hub smart displays and other Google Assistant-enabled devices could call someone by reciting their phone number, the new method requires either using an existing contact or connecting and saving a new one to someone on that list.
“Starting in December 2021, Google-supported phone calls from your speakers, Smart Displays, and Smart Clocks can only be made to numbers in your Google Contacts. You can ask Google Assistant to make phone calls to your friends, family, and businesses on your speaker, Smart Display, or Smart Clock. You can’t receive incoming phone calls,” Google explained in an updated support article. “After this change, if you try to call a number that’s not saved in Google Contacts, you’ll get the option to add it. If you add the number, Google Assistant will make the call. If you don’t add it, Google Assistant will cancel the call.”
Calling on Google
Google Assistant only started allowing incoming calls last year, starting with Telstra subscribers in Australia. Later on, the feature expanded to the U.S., including a setting so that the smart home devices would only ring when the user was actually home. The voice-enabled speed dial feature for household contacts served a similar purpose. It’s a bit different from how Amazon Alexa started linking to AT&T phone numbers so that Echo smart speakers and could make or receive calls.
Google didn’t indicate why the numbers have to be saved. It might be in response to complaints about spam calls or wrong numbers. The move away from one-time phone calls seems strange, especially if someone wants to call a business number that they don’t need to save. It also very much goes against the trend for Google to keep adding and expanding features for its smart home devices. Google may also have simply decided it wasn’t worth the extra processing power due to a small user group, but it will certainly add friction to phone calls by Google Assistant at home under some circumstances.